Fact Check: Are Disqualified Majlis Candidates ‘Revolting’ against the Islamic Republic?
Mohammad-Hossein Saffar Harandi, member of the Expediency Council and adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said that the Guardian Council qualifies those who are not “after revolt against the Islamic regime.” During a Council session, Saffar Harandi told members that it must carefully study candidates in order to protect the Islamic regime from infiltrators.
Saffar Harandi labeled the disqualified candidates as ‘those who revolt against the Islamic state’ and as ‘opponents’ of the regime.
There are two ways to analyze Saffar Harandi’s statement:
The Legal Context
A review of the parliament’s election law suggests that Saffar Harandi’s claims are not included in the list of classifications that disqualify potential candidates. Article 30 of the law provides a description of the sorts of candidates who can be prevented from taking seats in Majlis. Among these are large landowners, those engaged in corruption and debauchery, and those who are convicted of treason, fraud, embezzlement, bribery, and confiscation of property. The law stipulates that all such accusations must be based on court rulings.
There are three paragraphs in the election law related to Islamic law, drug dealers, and drug addicts, and those subjected to Article 49 of the constitution. Article 49 says the government is responsible to deny ownership of wealth accumulated through ‘usury, usurpation, bribery, embezzlement, theft, gambling, misuse of endowments, misuse of government contracts and deals, uncultivated land and corruption. The verdict should be issued after government investigation and legal consideration.’
Only paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 in Article 30 of the parliamentary law are overtly political. In paragraph 3, candidates associated with illegal political parties and associations are denied candidacies for parliament. Paragraph 4 suggests that those accused of acting against the Islamic Republic with legal proof are to be prevented from running, while paragraph 5 of the article states that those ‘convicted of apostasy by a court ruling’ are barred from running. This paragraph also emphasizes competent judicial rulings.
Official Candidate Statistics
The head of the election commission announced that of the total amount of people who sought candidacies for Majlis, 810 were rejected by the executive bodies and 498 had resigned early in the process. Based on official statistics, 10,720 candidates were referred to the executive body of the Guardian Council. From this group, the executive body accepted 4,720 candidates. Thus, 44 percent of candidates were accepted and 56 percent were disqualified.
In total, from 12,046 nominated candidates, 7,326 – equal to roughly 60 percent – have been disqualified.
Going back to what Saffar Harandi has said in the Expediency Council, is it rational to conclude that the over 60 percent of disqualified candidates have been trying to ‘revolt against the Islamic regime’? It is logical to conclude that these 7,326 people are ‘revolting’ against a regime whose procedures and institutions they have followed and in which they have attempted to participate? Saffar Harandi’s statement only makes sense if one takes an extremely expansive definition of the concepts of revolt and regime opposition, one that encompasses the formal, legislated reasons for disqualification.
Contrary to Saffar Harandi’s accusations, the bases for the disqualification of candidates are either ideological or political, rather than explicit revolt. According to the Governor of Fars province, parliamentary law exists to stop from entering politics those candidates who are against Islam and the philosophy that underpins the Islamic Republic.
The statement from Saffar Harandi, member of the Expediency Council, is based neither on the existing law nor on the available data. Thus we rate it as “false.”